Distracted Driving Awareness Month is observed every April to raise awareness of the dangers of driver distraction and to bring the topic of prevention into the conversation. Together, it is more than possible to prevent distracted driving — all we have to do is choose to pay attention to the road when we are behind the wheel.
How Common Is Distracted Driving?
In Rhode Island and throughout the United States, distracted driving is unfortunately common and has become an alarming issue. For example, statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that more than 3,000 U.S. residents were killed in 2019 in traffic accidents involving driver distraction, and estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that about 400,000 people were injured in 2018.
Types of Distracted Driving
When talking about driver distraction, the first thing that comes to mind for many is texting while driving, but there are many other distractions that have proven to be fatal. A few of the most common distractions include:
- Rubbernecking, or turning to stare at a crash
- Tweaking the air conditioning or heating system
- Listening to loud or distracting music
- Using navigation apps and GPS devices
- Smoking while driving
- Eating while driving
- Being lost in thought
- Driver fatigue
Please note: These are just a few examples. Any activity that takes your eyes off the road, your hand(s) off the wheel, or your mind off driving — even if it is only for a few seconds — is considered a distraction. As the NHTSA highlights, not paying attention to the road for 5 seconds while going 55 miles per hour is the equivalent of traveling the length of a football field without looking.
While the statistics are harrowing, something can be done about them. And what better time to start than now, in honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month?
A couple of the most effective ways to take action are to (a) refrain from driving while distracted and (b) encourage others to do the same:
- If you need to, don't be afraid to pull over: If you are distracted by something, such as a text, simply pull over to the side of the road to take care of it instead of trying to multitask.
- Always plan ahead: Before you leave, map out your route and make sure that the GPS is ready to go, that the AC/heating is how you like it, and that your phone is stowed away to minimize any potential distractions.
- Take a moment to pause before you go: When your mind is preoccupied with stress, take a moment to breathe and get situated before you start driving. It may not make the stress go away in the long term, but it may help clear your mind momentarily so you can focus on the task at hand.
- Speak up and speak out: Don't be afraid to say something if you see a friend, family member, or someone else driving while distracted.
Advocating for Safer Streets in Rhode Island
Sadly, many people in Providence and the rest of the state sustain life-changing injuries every year because of distracted drivers. At Karns & Kerrison, we have made a name for ourselves through our aggressive advocacy for these accident victims. To date, we have recovered more than $250 million for our clients and remain committed to our fight for safer streets.
Injured in an accident? Call our Providence lawyers at (888) 281-3100 or contact us online today.